From renowned author Lindsey Davis, creator of the much-loved character, Marcus Didius Falco and his friends and family, comes the fourth novel in her all-new series set in ancient Rome.
We first met Flavia Albia, Falco's feisty adopted daughter, in The Ides of April. Albia is a remarkable woman in what is very much a man's world: young, widowed and fiercely independent, she lives alone on the Aventine Hill in Rome and makes a good living as a hired investigator. An outsider in more ways than one, Albia has unique insight into life in ancient Rome, and she puts it to good use going places no man could go, and asking questions no man could ask.
Davis's fourth Flavia Albia novel (after 2015's Deadly Election), a straightforward whodunit set in Rome in 89 C.E., lacks the political backdrop of earlier installments in the series. The arresting opening sentence, "Everyone knew a dead barmaid was buried in the courtyard," refers to an eating house called the Garden of the Hesperides. Flavia's fianc , Manlius Faustus, has just bought a renovation business, and his first job, a holdover from the business's incompetent previous owner, is to redo the courtyard of the Garden of the Hesperides. When Manlius's workers uncover some bones, Flavia, among others, wonders whether they are the remains of Rufia, the missing barmaid. Flavia, an informer (the ancient Roman equivalent of a PI) who believes in justice above all else, sets out to identify the remains and solve a very cold case which becomes more complex after she finds evidence of a previously unsuspected crime. The leads are entertaining, but the resolution isn't one of Davis's best.